The 64th annual Beaux Arts Festival was once again held on the University of Miami campus January 17-18. With South Florida winter weather the way it is, now is the season of the arts festivals and Beaux is one of the largest and best. A recent $1.5 million gift from Beaux Arts to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum should keep this tradition for a long time to come.
What is striking about this particular festival is how the campus seems to naturally enhance the art it hosts. Booths meander through grass, trees and walking paths reflecting art in nature. The nearly $20,000 in cash prizes to the artists may be enticement, but the clincher is the feeling of the weekend for both artist and visitors to the show. “We do this every year because it is relaxing. It’s part of the Miami experience and our family enjoys seeing the traveling art in our community,” remarked Miami native Elenita Rodriguez.
Todd Andrew Babb’s sculpture work caught my eye. His pieces are long, flowing and seemingly dancing. “I’ve been at this particular style and format for about eight years now. I’ve done festivals all around the country and this is my first time here. I’m very impressed and pleased. My work is in collections around the world and the warm reception I’m getting in Miami is wonderful.”
‘DECOdent Blue’ stood out as my favorite. The misspelled name is a twist on the deco art inspired figure. The blue is from the woman's long, flowing dress. Babb says he’s inspired by surrealism and the art deco period and this is his homage to both.
Another artist, Jack Hill, also stood out in my eyes. He too is a sculptor, but working mostly in wood. “I very strongly feel the goal in art or the essence of art is to comment on the times you live in. So I work hard to do so… and aspire to make even more universal observation,” explained Hill. One piece on exhibit, called ‘Failed’ showed a student growing from an old-fashioned school desk on wheels. His body is riddled with square holes and a broken pencil is evident. It is left it to the beholder to decide who or what has failed. Hill suggests, “Maybe its more than one thing that has failed.”
With over 230 booths, there was something for everyone. If you missed it, there’s next year when the organizer promises it to be bigger and better.